The Missing (UK-US, 2014)

Incomprehensible anguish

Incomprehensible anguish

Writers Harry and Jack Williams appear to have taken their cue from Scandinavian noir for this brilliant eight-part thriller concerning the fallout of a missing child. Director Tom Shankland, too, has ensured attention to detail within the framing elevates this high quality drama. The performances are also crucial to the programme’s success; Tchéky Karyo’s sympathetic detective being the standout for me though James Nesbitt’s (Tony) central performance could not be bettered. Karyo is probably best known as Bob in Nikita (France-Italy, 1990) and I can’t helped feeling he’s been under-used since. Setting much of the action in France gives The Missing an international dimension which draws on some of the (slight) exoticism that is part of Scandinavian noir‘s appeal; the brilliant Anamaria Marinca also appears in three episodes.

The Williamses pull off the trick of having a narrative ‘twist’ as the cliffhangar at episodes’ endings and yet none of the directions in which the story is pulled is anything less than plausible. Possibly their biggest triumph is in creating a sympathetic paedophile (Titus De Voogdt); his anguish at his own perverted desires is as strong as Tony’s at the loss of his child.

One criticism, and it is mild, is the relative sidelining of women. That said, it is a drama that sits comfortably next to The Killing and The Bridge which makes it a major triumph.

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